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King John is a bleak and ruthless play: a series of wars in which nobles defect from one side to another seem to achieve little.
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'Two stars keep not their motion in one sphere'
Henry IV Part 1, Act 5, Sc. 4
'There is a history in all men's lives'
Henry IV Part 2, Act 3, Sc. I
‘A kingdom for a stage, princes to act,
And monarchs to behold the swelling scene’
Henry V, Prologue
‘Conscience is but a word that cowards use,
Devised at first to keep the strong in awe’
Richard III, Act 5, Sc. 5
Henry VIII is a thrilling performance piece and a fascinating tightrope-walk between diplomacy and drama.
Richard II is arguably the greatest of Shakespeare’s histories, containing some of Shakespeare’s most magnificent poetry, from Gaunt’s paean to England to Richard’s despairing lament.